On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What will I find?

I dream I had two weeks ago has stayed with me.  It has given me hope and strength.

It began at a church gathering in a fellowship hall of sorts.  People were just arriving and without any specific task to complete, they were standing around greeting one another and laughing.  I had been assigned a task but didn't know where to go as I had never been to the church before.  And because the task was nonspecific, I didn't know what I was expected to do or what person was supposed to give me directions and put me to work.

I stood in the background, assuming the proverbial wall flower posture.  A gentleman was laughing and getting along with everyone, making the social atmosphere light and easy.  Someone came up to me and said, "your husband is so funny!"

I looked at her quizzically and said, "He's not my husband."  Then I walked away, following the hall to a stairway that led me downward.  The stairwell opened into a vast, open space with floor to ceiling windows on three sides.  The view out of the windows was breathtaking.  There was a pond with manicured gardens surrounding it, a stone walkway to the left, tall reeds in the back obscuring the surrounding city vistas and an overwhelming sense of tranquility.

I walked slowly toward the glass and whispered, "wow.  that is so beautiful"  Then I saw that the room was actually the pastoral staff's private study.  I backed up and returned up the stairwell, still remarking how amazing the view had been.

At a landing on the stairway, I took a turn and ended up in a hallway filled with tables of desserts.  A frantic woman dressed in her Sunday best was talking hastily on her phone about some issue with the food preparation.  She was agitated and annoyed.  She gesticulated for me to start tending to the problem at hand, pointing in the direction of the dessert table.  I could not see any issues there which made her frustrated with me because I was clearly no help and therefore one more annoyance.  While she argued with the caller and rolled her eyes at me for not tending to her problems, I shrugged and walked away.

Feeling lost and confused but knowing I had a purpose, I wandered into a sitting room that was occupied by four women in a heated debate over some biblical study they had been doing together.  No one was in agreement and the debate went in circles with each person simply restating the ideas expressed but insisting her wording wasn't saying the same thing as the other.  I chose to interrupt, knowing I was needed somewhere to be helpful.  Asking if they could please point me in the direction of someone that was in charge, i got only blank stares.

All of these scenes and encounters left me bewildered.  A husband that wasn't mine.  I breathtaking scene that I should not have been privy too.  An angry woman that wouldn't be pacified.  A group of women arguing the same point.  A job to do but no information for how to do it or where to go or what it was or from whom I might get direction.  An overwhelming sense of loneliness and being lost but at the same time knowing I have a purpose, I needed only to keep searching on my own.

I continued to wander the seemingly endless rooms and halls.  It was as if the church was one addition after another with no true architectural clarity.  There were people hustling and bustling about or talking amongst themselves but none of them noticed me, or at the least, none were concerned that I looked lost.  Then, I entered the original sanctuary for the building.  That is to say, like some old churches, the original sanctuary is not torn down but remodeled and repurposed but the congregation meets in the new, improved sanctuary after renovation.

I stood in the empty room, the vaulted ceilings high above me.  The room was barren and plain and had a feeling of sadness, as though it had acquiesced to being an all purpose room after so many years of hand bells, pipe organs and acapella choirs.  I sighed heavily.  The contrast of the beauty in the sequestered pastoral study that was off limits to all to the ordinary, dull, now lifeless sanctuary struck me viscerally.  A sound, something like a gasp or a cry or an echo of emotion from deep within me escaped my mouth inadvertently.

Then the plaster walls began to dissolve and fall away, silently.  The ceiling drifted slowly to the floor like snowflakes.  People began to enter the room but said nothing.  They just watched with me.

Falling, falling, the room around me was transformed.  Above me ascended the most ornate and breathtaking masonry.  Chiseled archways high above the pews, stained glass windows even higher still, a belfry and pipes from a long since forgotten organ, all of it, for everyone, covered up, hidden and taken for granted.

"Wow" someone said.

"I didn't know all of this was here." another said.

"did YOU do this?" another asked of me.

Slowly, a smile crept across my face as the last of the plaster fell to the floor, the dust still floating in the air, now illuminated by the sunlight filtering through the stained glass windows.  I had found my purpose: to find the hidden beauty in the loss and pain and give it back to everyone that needs it.

I'm not sure what the dream means but it fills me with so much hope.  I know that as my immediate future looks uncertain and I approach huge changes with trepidation, it will be beautiful ... for everyone that needs it.  I know that the wandering and the feelings of loss and loneliness, uselessness and frustration, thinking that I don't belong - that I'm a fish out of water, will fade away and though there be special places for a select few, the more beautiful things in life are those that are available to everyone.  The discovery and revelation is what makes the journey, though it be hard and long, worth it.

Toward beauty I will set my path
To things of good and not of wrath.
To Hope and Grace,
With gentleness
I will find my joy at last.

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